She Keeps Bees Keeping it Independent in 2013

Jess and Andy from She Keeps Bees
Jess and Andy from She Keeps Bees

“Sharon’s pulling in the favors!” Jessica Larrabee jokingly cried over the phone from a Wheaton, Maryland number recently while her bandmate in She Keeps Bees, Andy LaPlant, and I listened. She was explaining how it came to be that Sharon Van Etten was back on the PR beat, pushing these kids.

“She’s a dear friend, we’ve known her for years now – she’s like a sister to me,” Jessica continued. “I’ve been so happy to see all the blessings that have come to her. She’s incredible. It was really humbling when she was like, come play on my record.”

You. Must. Write. About. This. Band. Was the message I got, and I obliged, and here we are. They’re playing this Saturday December 15 at Cameo Gallery with Speck Mountain and a special guest – wonder who that could be!

After meeting in Brooklyn eight years back, the duo that are She Keeps Bees have put out a slew of independent efforts and toured them across the U.S., even scoring an overseas label and booking agent. Huzzah!

But the same luck has evaded these two in the states, where like many of their indie brethren they struggle to find a booking agent to fight for the last remaining dollars flowing in the music industry: live shows.

“We’re trying to be a real band that does, like, planning,” Jessica said. “It’s just us, so.”

“We’ve been the label ourselves – in the states we hire as we need – but the distribution and stuff, if you order from our online store, you’re getting it from us, along with little prizes and notes and stuff.”

 

Though a small label in the UK (“We were their bastard child rock band,” Andy said) has released their efforts abroad and even helped secure them a booking agent there and in parts of Europe, it hasn’t been so easy.

“Here, not so much,” continued Andy. “We’ve been booking ourselves for the last couple years in the states which is difficult but you get some interesting shows.”

How interesting?

“We end up playing house shows and things that wouldn’t normally happen through traditional channels.” So you get really close to fans? “Sometimes sleeping in their living rooms,” he added.

But these days that’s the way things go, right?

Jessica pipped up, “The idea that there’s no one way anymore – I mean in the 70s my Dad was playing drums in house bands and there was no way for them to gain enough money to go and record, because it was just impossible – now there’s all these different avenues to allow bands to do what they need to do. Sometimes I feel like a label comes in, and if they’re taking rights, you better love that label; you better love being a part of that community and that family and help support other bands that that label is going to put out.”

Adding, “For us it was like, we’re just holding on to [our publishing rights] because right now we can live and do what we want without having to actually ask anybody, ‘Can we do that?’”

Is that freedom or what?

“We’re letting the universe surprise us, that’s sort of the mantra of 2012/2013 – no one really knows what the hell is going on!”

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